We have a new main character of gaming Twitter the past day or so, the President of Tripwire Interactive, John Gibson, maker of games like Killing Floor, Red Orchestra and Maneater, tweeting his emphatic support for Texas’ extreme new abortion ban:
The Texas law was designed to get around a court challenge by being structured in a way to allow its “enforcement” to by carried out by citizens, who can report anyone associated with any stage of a post-six week abortion (before most women know they’re pregnant) by allowing them to sue people for a $10,000 bounty. The Supreme Court recently opted to let the law take effect in a 5-4 decision, thanks to its conservative majority, and it will likely only be challenged if someone is actually sued and that case rises up through the courts. But because of the potential liability, abortion providers in Texas are simply not risking it, making it nearly impossible for its citizens to get abortions after six weeks, regardless of the circumstances. Which was always the point of how the law was designed.
The law has drawn social media comparisons of turning Texas into Gilead, the oppressive, women-enslaving regime of The Handmaid’s Tale, and needless to say, the president of a gaming company expressing public support for the law has not gone over well in the generally progressive video game industry.
Gibson has been publicly lambasted not just by thousands of fans, many of whom say they will no longer play Tripwire games, but also industry figures like Sony Santa Monica’s Cory Barlog or Star Wars writer Gary Whitta. And past that, Shipwright Studios, which worked with Tripwire, publicly cancelled their contracts with them, saying they can no longer be associated with the company. Chivarly’s Torn Banner studios issued a statement distancing themselves from Tripwire, their publisher, saying Gibson’s views are the opposite of their own.
There are two main points being made here by Gibson’s detractors. First is the idea that it’s simply…morally reprehensible to a support what they deem is a morally reprehensible law. But second, it’s the fact that Gibson is one man, and while tweeting his opinion may be “free speech” (as in, he’s not getting arrested for expressing it), speech like that has consequences for his entire company, and obviously everyone who works at Tripwire, women included, are now tangled up in that statement.
Gibson may be in the public eye right now, but his position here is not exactly shocking to anyone who has followed his work for a while. Over on ResetEra, a former mod for Tripwire’s forums detailed an interaction with Gibson (with screenshots) that was an argument about how Gibson has personally unbanned a repeatedly racist player over the objections of his mods because he “was trying to be kind.” And mostly bizarrely, Gibson put the music of his own Christian metal band in Killing Floor 2, which include clearly anti-liberal, anti-abortion lyrics.
Gibson and Tripwire have gone silent since his comments 36 hours ago. I’ve reached out to John Gibson and Tripwire for comment and will update if I hear back. But this is not going away any time soon, that much is clear, and how much damage it does to the company remains to be seen.